Can my nanomaterial cause negative health effects?

Information about adverse health effects in relation to exposure is not available for most nanomaterials. Nanomaterials are generally more reactive than non-nanomaterials due to their relatively large surface area. The increased reactivity can induce cells of the body to produce large quantities of molecules such as oxygen radicals and inflammation messengers, which can lead to tissue damage and other adverse effects.

Toxicity of nanomaterials depends on many factors

Lists with safe and non-safe nanomaterials do not exist because the toxicity of nanomaterials depends not only on the chemical composition and/or size, but also on characteristics like shape, electrical charge, coatings and the presence of functional groups. For example, two titanium dioxide nanoparticles with the same shape and size can have different toxic effects due to  coating differences.   

Health limit values

A health limit value can be derived for nanomaterials when sufficient safety data is available. Health limit values of non-nanomaterials cannot be used because properties differ at nanoscale. Data from comparable nanomaterials can be used, but only if the nanomaterials are proven to indeed be comparable.  

However, the comparability of nanomaterials is still under debate. You can contact Nanocentre for more information. If a health limit value cannot be derived, methods are available to categorize nanomaterials into hazard classes. 

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